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Medical Staffs, Outreach & Clinics
Use of Practices in a Hospital
Mary Ann Steffes, R. N., Wisconsin
I am an R. N. by profession and work as Night Shift Manager at a large hospital. My practicum in the Healing and Transformation program has included staff and patients at the hospital where I work. With agitated psychiatric patients I have used breath work, massage, and acupressure. In critical life threatening situations I have used touch and grounding touch. I have used the techniques of breath and touch by holding patients' hands between mine as I help them calm and center and then proceed to start treatments such as Elvis The results have been powerful. One young person was reluctant to let go of my hand, yet earlier she was glad to have me leave her space!
In collaboration with The Center To BE in Wisconsin, I have begun a series of four one-hour workshops with staff at a residential halfway house for persons with mental health diagnoses and have conducted a session entitled "Beginning Self-Healing Practices for Body, Mind and Spirit" for twelve women in Fond du Lac who were interested in learning how to take better care of themselves.
In the process of teaching mind, body, spirit healing practices, the learning for me has been the process and practice, not the perfection of an art form or discipline. In teaching this to a group of twelve women, I stressed not judging themselves, or the feelings that arose, or their "performance" of the Tai Chi moves. I instructed them to honor what they felt and continue to breathe and let go. One woman in the group came up to me and thanked me profusely, saying she felt so free to be herself and felt so respected. She did not have to be perfect. She shared this with her eyes brimming with tears.
The staff I am working with at a halfway house (a transitional care house for persons with a mental health disorder) is like a sponge, so eager to take it all in. They share how they have used the techniques with clients. They posted the finger holds on their message board and use this with clients. In our last meeting they were brainstorming which techniques would work best with a particular client who ingests objects, such as spoons and batteries. This client's mother is terminal and they were looking for specific strategies she could use in coping with her mother's dying. Finger holds were part of the plan because she can do this and no one would know what she was doing. It was imperative she remain in control and feel empowered.
In my work area, I have opportunities to share these healing practices. One woman in particular has a history of having been sexually abused as a teenager. Now a member of her extended family has sexually abused her daughter who is developmentally challenged. The whole family pretends the abuse never happened. As Easter approached, the family gathering was becoming a frightening experience. We talked about boundaries and safety, and the need to be truthful about feelings and the need to honor oneself. I taught her the finger holds, breathing and meditation. We talked about connecting with her God and breathing in God's love as she balanced the strong feelings.
Just a few days ago she shared with me how good she felt about herself and that she was making progress in dealing with her family. Her self-esteem is so much improved and her personal strength is very evident. She practiced the finger holds while in Mass. Her prayer while doing the holds was for God to help her remain humble yet strong. She shared her awareness of her wisdom, value and worth. I was moved to tears by her sharing.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this year of learning. The Capacitar training has been a tremendous educational experience and a powerful personal growth experience. I have applied the body, mind, and spirit teachings to my practice of nursing and the results have been tremendous. I approach patients, critical events, and difficult situations in a whole new manner. I ground myself and breathe deeply and know I am capable and have all that I need. I have moved from judgment to compassion. I am open-minded and look beyond what seems obvious and ask God to come into this place within me so I can serve and minister more fully. I have been told that my compassion is "fierce" as I have become an advocate for empowering individuals and raising the consciousness of us in health care as we encounter more and more broken and wounded persons. I am in awe of the hunger and thirst for the practices we teach and share. Even more gratifying are the results as evidenced by the visible changes in the people we serve.
Capacitar Practices at an Outreach Clinic for the Uninsured
Jayne Ader, Therapist, Wisconsin
Our Outreach Clinic provides free services for the uninsured. About eighty percent of our patient population is Latino. The majority of this population speaks only Spanish. On a daily basis sixty percent of our patients attend the clinic for the first time.
The clinical team was finding that many patients come to us with high levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. This is demonstrated through both emotional and physical manifestations. Many people feel overwhelmed by the fast-paced North American culture. People feel isolated by the language and cultural barriers. Separation from family and cultural support systems greatly enhances this isolation. Due also to the intense manual labor that many of our patients participate in on a daily basis they come to the clinic with severe muscular tension.
Thus we are constantly seeking effective ways of helping people learn or reconnect with skills to work through both their physical and emotional issues. For this reason I chose to offer the Capacitar modalities to our patient population.
History: Three different approaches were used to share these valuable practices. The same day that the patients came for medical attention the Nurse Practitioner or other providers would refer the patient to me to teach one-on-one practices, such as acupressure, Thought Field Therapy, and visualization. The patient could immediately use the practices to address their current issue.
As part of the community outreach project we offer a Neuromuscular Integrative Action (NIA) course. This allows the people to engage in a positive exercise experience. NIA combines positive imagery with dance, yoga, and movement. At the end of each NIA course we have been able to integrate Tai Chi movements. It is a way to enhance the meditative aspect of NIA. The third approach was to offer various Capacitar classes in which the community could participate. In these classes I used the Tai Chi movements, Finger Holds, Deep Breathing exercises, Acupressure, Visualization techniques and hand-foot massage.Outcomes:?Most participants experienced a change in their physical or emotional state. The following comments give indications of these changes:
Pre-Capacitar Comments: I come with a sore neck and I would like to avoid taking Ibuprofen. I feel depressed and suffer from low energy. I feel the need for connection. I felt isolated. I have had a headache for three days.
Post Capacitar Comments: My neck feels much better. I do not need a pill now. I feel energized. I feel hopeful. This is the first time my head has felt so clear in a while.
Evaluation: In the courses offered to the community there were twenty participants in total. Five of these participated in more than one course. Six Capacitar courses were offered. Twenty Tai Chi segments were added to the NIA course. Over 100 people were taught practices one-on-one.
I continue to seek ways in which the modalities that I have learned in can best meet the needs and schedules of our patients and the south side community. The variety of ways in which Capacitar can be adapted allows more people to utilize these wellness techniques. The participants have enjoyed the courses and have used them as a forum to share their own healing knowledge. It is fascinating to hear practices from places such as Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. The biggest barrier to fully sharing the Capacitar program is my own trust and comfort level with expressing the dynamic of energy. As I continue my own practices I feel that my confidence will grow. Thus the sharing of these techniques can expand and become more profound.
Work with Health System Staff and Local Community
Sister Rita Schmidt, Hospital Chaplain, Wisconsin
"I'm doing something for "ME", and it feels so good." A statement made by a woman participant in the wellness sessions offered through our health system in Wisconsin. She was led to take responsibility for nurturing her own health and stimulating her natural healing capabilities in her own body. She and 75 other participants have strengthened the connection between mind, body and spirit. The sharing of mind, body, spirit practices with health system staff and the local community has helped them find ways to live with stress as a fact of life, and to re-channel their healing energy in creative and new ways.
A wholesome life is repleting, not depleting. It is in some sense always a healthy life. The problem with words like "healthy" and "healing" is that we are inclined to think of them only in terms of recovery from physical ailments. My life experience and training in clinical pastoral education has helped me to realize healing actually means to "make whole" the brokenness of our hearts, the confusion of our minds, the doubts that plague our spirit, the depression that draws us low.
Neon signs were signaling that overstress was afoot as I walked the halls of the hospital where I work as a chaplain. I wanted to help, but how to "make them whole"? Restructuring units, a move to a completely new hospital facility this past year and the day-to-day demands on health care workers, resulted in many stressors that were pervasive and persistent and weighed on their bodies and spirits.
To my good fortune, with Capacitar's program and holistic perspective on wellness, I could utilize the practices for my own healing and then share the stress-reducing techniques and natural healing practices with staff and the greater community of Oshkosh.
I began sharing the wellness practices I learned with nursing staff on a medical surgical unit. The timing and interest was not the best. Just another thing for the staff to DO in their already stressed lives. Yet, four nurses participated in three one-hour sessions. I shared with these women, Tai Chi, visualization, relaxation techniques facilitating breath and energy work, and acupressure techniques to relieve stress and pain. They found the time beneficial, invigorating and enlightening.
To spread the word of the value of the Capacitar program and share my learnings with more people, I enlisted the health promotions/marketing department. Tai Chi and other wellness practices were promoted. Staff and people from the surrounding community gathered for two, hour and a half sessions. Forty people learned visualization, tai chi, energy and breath work, hand massage, seated head, neck and shoulder massage and acupressure. The response was very positive. A waiting list was forming for ANOTHER series of classes.
A second series of five evening sessions on Tai Chi and other wellness practices was offered with an enrollment of 32. Participants included health care workers and members of the community at large. In the five, hour and a half sessions, visualization, Tai Chi, breath and energy work, Pal Dan Gum exercises, seated head, neck and shoulder massage, hand~massage and acupressure techniques were offered.
I have found this program a catalyst for my own growth and transformation. In sharing my learnings with others, I too, have been empowered to recompose my own life in ways that have been more creative and fulfilling.
Some of the feedback from participants: "I liked the gentle movements of Tai Chi. It was a revelation to learn I don't have to 'work hard' to exercise to be an effective workout".
"I now value my breath more and its power to energize and relax me for better health".
"Tai Chi and the other healing practices helped me to release stress in my life and rebalance my energy alleviating my headaches and insomnia".
"All the mind-body-spirit practices you shared, helped me to center myself, find relaxation and peace...what I have been so needy of in my fast-paced life".
A Journey to Wellness
Pattie Wellner, R. N., Oncology Nurse, Wisconsin
The program I co-presented with colleague Sue Bourill at our hospital was entitled 'Learning, Living, and Loving', and consisted of ten different sessions including: Acupressure and Therapeutic Touch, Tai Chi, and Walking the Labyrinth. The program was initially offered to people experiencing life-altering illnesses. At each of the sessions we gave a brief history of the therapy, demonstrated the techniques and had participants practice the therapies with our guidance. Handout materials were made available to participants to take home for later reference.
The first sessions had only four attendees, a dialysis patient and his wife approximately in their late 50's to early 60's. The other two were elderly women with respiratory difficulties, one of which was on oxygen all the time. Both women become short of breath very easily. The rest of the sessions were better attended, they were also better advertised. Some of the challenges we faced were locations of some of the meeting rooms including distance from parking lot and disturbances from the adjoining rooms. We were also faced with space limitations and room arrangements.
The Tai Chi session was very well received with 27 participants ranging in age and physical condition. Those who could not physically participate were encouraged to do what they were capable of doing or to visualize the movements. The reactions to this session along with the session on walking the Labyrinth were overwhelmingly positive with calls for the classes to continue.
Capacitar Protocols in Toronto
Karen A. Steward, Toronto, Canada
I attended my first Healing and Transformation session hosted by the Centre to BE in Milwaukee. I live in Toronto and before beginning the program I wondered where I would find traumatic stress in Toronto. While I know many stressed-out people, I wondered if their stress fell under the category of traumatic stress and if the CAPACITAR protocols would be relevant to their lives. I soon had my answer!
When I returned to Toronto after the first session, the city was dealing with an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, otherwise known as SARS. To contain the spread of SARS several steps had been taken. Numerous hospitals were closed to visitors. Health care workers were required to wear gowns and masks when dealing with patients. People potentially exposed to SARS were quarantined in their homes. This enforced isolation proved to be traumatizing for many. For some, the isolation even brought on symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome.
I wondered what I could do to help. I contacted the Pastoral Care team at my church and offered to teach them some CAPACITAR protocols. My hope was that they would share the protocols with those affected by the restrictions. The team was receptive. I began by teaching simple breathing techniques, since it seemed that collectively all of us were holding our breath. Then I moved into Tai Chi, finger holds and the Emotional Freedom Techniques. I focused on these protocols that do not involve touching another person because public health officials were asking us to limit direct contact with others. I provided handouts and encouraged the team to send them to anyone they knew who might benefit from practicing these techniques. They were very receptive and asked that I return with additional protocols!
Shortly after this, I received an invitation to give another presentation to a group of women at my church. It became clear to me that the stress of living with this health crisis had indirectly affected many of us. After I attended the second CAPACITAR session in May, I contacted a chaplain at a major Toronto hospital with an offer to teach CAPACITAR techniques to the health care workers in her hospital. I have sent her handouts on finger holds, EFT, and Tai Chi protocols to share with the staff. For me, teaching CAPACITAR protocols has been a positive way for me to respond to the needs of my community during a difficult time.
Supporting Medical Outreach in Haiti
Capacitar began work with the people of Thiotte, Haiti, when the Haiti Medical Mission of Wisconsin (HMMW) visited there in 2003. Maureen Murphy-Greenwood, M.D., founder of HMMW, has led teams of doctors and medical professionals there since 1997. The rural community of Thiotte has about 25,000 people. The nearest hospital is 4 hours away and they depend upon the regular visits of HMMW for much of their medical care.
In 2002, Maureen completed the CAPACITAR Training program through The Center to BE in Wisconsin along with colleague, Mary Ellen Sabourin, M.D. who also provided medical care for the Haiti mission. At their invitation, Capacitar founder Pat Cane, participated in the mission as well, with the Wisconsin 2003 Center to BE class providing funding for airfare. While in Haiti, Pat led workshops for the medical team and for hundreds of Haitians who waited daily to see the doctors. Fingerholds for fear and anxiety were used by patients awaiting surgery. Doctors and nurses taught patients acupressure points to give them something they could do for themselves. The local priest incorporated Tai chi movements as part of the Mass offered for the people there. A manual in Haitian Creole was developed by Pat and Daniel Massillon, a local translator, to make the Capacitar practices available for the people of Haiti and the Caribbean.